Sustainable Development through Community-Based Resource Management
Summary of El Nido Foundation’s Major Activities:
We spearheaded the formulation of the El Nido Municipal Resource Management Framework through facilitation of a stakeholders’ workshop in 1996. Through the initiative of ENF and civil society partners, the framework was updated in 2002 and became the basis for El Nido municipality’s Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan (CLWUP), which was subsequently endorsed by Palawan province’s Provincial Land Use Committee in 2004.
Mainly through the efforts of Asian Conservation Company (major investor of the Ten Knots Group of Companies), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the World Bank-IFC, confirmed funding support in July 2004 for ENF’s 6-year multi-stakeholder collaborative approach in implementing El Nido’s CLWUP-Environmental Management Plan focusing on Coastal/Marine Resource Management. The GEF-funded project, called the ACC Initiative or ACCI (or ACC-Tranche 1), has the following components:
- Conservation Management
- Information, Education, and Communication (IEC)
- Sustainable Livelihood
- Marine Enforcement (including establishment of local Bantay Dagat system)
- Institutional and Financial Sustainability
- Biodiversity Research and Monitoring.
The ACCI, which began implementation in September 2004, is currently the centerpiece project of the Foundation.
Reef Restoration and Education
We initiated the implementation of a Coral Reef Restoration and Education Program in Tres Marias, a group of islets in Bacuit Bay, El Nido. The Program seeks to strengthen stakeholder involvement for the ecoreefs installation, management, protection, as well as to come up with strategies that will encourage the youth of El Nido to actively take part in taking care of El Nido’s remaining natural coral reefs.
The activity jump-started stakeholder involvement in various efforts at conserving El Nido’s precious coastal and marine resources, which is the main livelihood and food source of at least 70% of El Nido’s populace, and the status of which is where the local economy’s main economic activity - nature tourism, largely depend on.
With support from Seacology, a US-based non-stock nonprofit organization, the Coral Reef Restoration Project with an education component, seeks not only to help the communities establish a marine no-take zone in the area, but goes one step further through coral reef restoration (utilizing EcoReef modules), while at the same time raising the awareness of the communities around, specifically the youth, on the importance of coral reefs in sustaining fish biomass in the area.
The project is managed by the multi-stakeholder Task Force Tres Marias organized by the El Nido Foundation in November 2005.
Water Resource Conservation and Rehabilitation
We encouraged the development and conservation of water resource systems through the rehabilitation of the watershed area in the village of Bebeladan (40 hectares of degraded forest cover in Mt. Mainlong, Bebeladan, El Nido).
The reforestation increased the water holding capacity of Mt. Mainlong so that potable water is now available to many households not only in Bebeladan but also in villages near Bebeladan. The rehabilitation of the watershed area provided income to farmers and upland dwellers. The reforestation-based livelihood that resulted from the undertaking of the watershed rehabilitation helped in the conservation of the forest while providing alternative incomes.
The farmers did not have to engage anymore in slash and burn activities just to have rice and staple crops like sweet potatoes, corn, and bananas. The water system in Bebeladan had been turned over to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries, on the other hand, organized their local cooperative with the guidance of ENF.
Community Organizing and Development
We undertook community organizing and community development in the villages and of tourism-related support service organizations in El Nido by providing the necessary support in forming the people’s organizations (POs) and the trainings to make the POs viable and self-reliant. These organizations include the Bebeladan Water Service Cooperative (BEWASECO), Samahan sa Ikauunlad at Pagkakaisa ng El Nido (SIPAG, translated as Organization for the Development and Unity of El Nido –a womens organization), the Cottages, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of El Nido (CRRAEN), the El Nido Pumpboat Owners and Operators Association (ENPOOA), among others.
Initiatives in Agriculture
We provided much needed assistance in improving agricultural productivity in El Nido through promotion of environment-friendly technology by conducting trainings in bio-intensive gardening, organic farming/hog-raising, ram pump technology, and provision of agricultural support (certified seeds, effective microorganisms, etc).
The ENF also organized a local regular market, the twice-weekly “Tabuan,” held at the poblacion of El Nido, as market support for the agricultural producers. This has led to substantial increase in agricultural production in the area, and helps link producers with the buyers (households and tourism establishments).
Development of Tourism-Support Services
We provided and conducted trainings on various tourism-related services like Food and Beverage (F and B), Housekeeping, Kitchen, massage therapy, salon services, etc.
We gave college and agricultural technology scholarships for deserving, capable, and diligent students, and we have had 11 graduates as of end 2006. Majority of these scholars have gone back to El Nido and are employed in other nongovernment organizations, helping out in ENF’s various activities and endeavors.
Community-Based Health Program – Malaria Control Project (CBHP-MCP)
This Project started in mid-1998 and is being sustained by the Local Government Unit through the Rural Health Unit. In its first 3 years, the Project was undertaken in coordination with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine of the Philippine Department of Health.
With initial support and funding provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy (through the Phil. Rural Reconstruction Movement’s El Nido Project), the El Nido CBHP-MCP expanded operations in 2001 with a grant from the Embassy of Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (GAGRP).
Through community-based approach, primarily by building the capacities of Community Health Volunteers (called Barangay Health Workers or BHWs) and the systematization of health care service delivery in the area, the project aimed to reduce malaria incidence and that malaria will cease to be a leading cause of illness and mortality in the area. Innovative approaches in implementation (such as the annual bednet festival or “Pista ng Kulambo” – a mass campaign for the use of insecticide-treated bednets as personal protection against malaria) have been very successful in mobilizing community participation in addressing health concerns, specifically malaria.
The reproductive health component of the health program has evolved into an integrated population and coastal resource management program (IPOPCORM), funded by Packard Foundation through PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc. On its final year as of end 2006, IPOPCORM has been seeking to improve reproductive health service delivery in critical coastal areas, as well as pioneering the integration of population issues in environmental concerns.
We facilitated the formation and institutionalization of the Protected Area Management Board of El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, a body composed of local stakeholders tasked to manage natural resource-related initiatives in the area. As Chair of the board’s Rules and Regulations Committee, ENF’s participation led to the development of the Internal Rules and Regulations of the board; and as member of the Resource Mobilization Committee, ENF leads in defining and implementing strategies that would ensure the sustainability of the Protected Area’s operations, especially in ecological conservation efforts.
Primary Health Care in Local Governance
Through its integrated local governance-health agenda, facilitated Barangay Planning and Budgeting workshops in 9 of El Nido’s 18 barangays, which led to the inclusion of community primary health care concerns in the barangays’ Annual Implementation Plan and Budget for the year. This activity is to ensure the sustainability of health reforms advocated by the project at the community level.
Ecotourism and Encouragement of Local Crafts
Through its Community-Based Ecotourism Project, (a three-year program, with funding applied for on a yearly basis with the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund of Japan), developed and implements pilot ecotourism projects with fisherfolk and their families as partners.
The project aims to serve as pilot for community-based ecotourism activities in the area. The objective is to decrease the pressure on the village’s natural resources while raising environmental awareness and assuring socio-economic benefits to the fisherfolk and their community.
As a pilot project and operational research endeavor, experiences and insights are properly documented in the course of the implementation so that these may guide development of enterprise-based conservation strategies in the future. The project aims to provide El Nido communities with a substantial socioeconomic incentive for conservation of the area’s biological diversity, and to demonstrate that community management of ecotourism could be an alternative to resource extraction and destruction.
The second phase of the Project is a tourism-supported reforestation park, which site is located in Nasigdan watershed, the source of potable water of the three barangays in the poblacion. The site has since evolved into a “living classroom” for local in-school- and out-of-school youth on the importance of a watershed. The third phase, which focuses on sustainable tourism-supported livelihood, includes the establishment of a Center for Local Crafts at the poblacion, which sources and develops local/indigenous crafts from all over the municipality and (its adjoining communities) into high-quality marketable products that caters primarily to the developing tourism industry in the area.
All photos taken by people or organizations working with El Nido Foundation and used with permission.
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